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Turks and Caicos Islands' Cabinet update and actions

His Excellency the Governor, Ric Todd, chaired the 17th meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday 7 August 2013 at the House of Assembly Building on Grand Turk.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Governor Ric Todd

His Excellency the Governor, Ric Todd, chaired the 17th meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday 7 August 2013 at the House of Assembly Building on Grand Turk.

All Ministers were present at the meeting except the Minister for Environment and Home Affairs, who was absent for personal reasons.

At this meeting Cabinet:

  • Discussed the establishment of the Audit Committee created in accordance with section 16 (9) - (13) of the Public Financial Management Ordinance 2012. The aim of the Committee will be to strengthen the independence, integrity, and effectiveness of audit activities in the public sector by providing independent oversight. Cabinet welcomed the establishment of the Committee and will consider appointment of 6 independent non-executive members (including the Chair) at its next meeting;

  • Noted a paper, presented by the Premier, setting out proposals for the Government’s Legislative Programme. The programme included some 66 pieces of legislation, identified in consultation with all Government Ministries, which need to be amended or developed over the next 18 months. This legislation is necessary to give effect to Government policies. Cabinet recognised that the list was not exhaustive and would be subject both to new priorities and capacity constraints. Cabinet further agreed that the three priority areas for legislation would be: measures with revenue potential; immigration and employment; and international obligations or matters with international implications. The programme will be published shortly;

  • Agreed a proposal from the Finance Minister to reduce duty on insurance and freight charges to 5% for building materials, specifically blocks, steel, sand, cement and aggregate. Cabinet considered this move necessary and expedient given the bulky nature of the items relative to their value and the importance of the construction sector, which is expected to contribute significantly to the expansion of the TCI economy in 2013/14 and beyond;

  • Noted with satisfaction a report from the Finance Minister setting out financial performance for the 1st Quarter of financial year 2013/14. The report shows an overall operating surplus of $2.2m and a year to date surplus of $12.8m, which is an encouraging start to the financial year. All of the key revenue streams are outperforming last year’s results, mainly from increased compliance efforts. Expenditure is performing broadly in line with expectations with a $3.2m YTD positive variance; this variance will reduce over time as planned activities are implemented. The Sinking Fund balance currently stands at $43.6m, however, this is expected to grow during July as a further $500k deposit is made;

  • Discussed a proposal from the Finance Minister to replace the current Turks and Caicos Islands Investment Policy and a proposed draft Ordinance to establish a new investment promotion agency under the name Invest Turks and Caicos. Cabinet noted that the new investment policy updates the existing one. It aims to provide a clear, simple and fair statement of the support and incentives that the Government will provide to prospective investors. Cabinet agreed to consider these two issues again, along with a revised Encouragement of Investment Ordinance, after further consultation across Government Ministries. Cabinet further agreed to conclude discussion and take decisions on the policy and the draft ordinances in September;

  • Recommended that the Governor appoint Ms. Nichola Melhado-Garland to the National Health Insurance Board (NHIB) on the nomination of the Leader of the Opposition, in accordance with the National Health Insurance Ordinance 8.10. The appointment will be for a period of three years effective from 1 August 2013 to 30 June 2016;

  • Also recommended that the Governor appoint Ms Alrisa Gardiner to replace Dr Dionne Lightbourne-Regans as a member of the Service Review Board as required under the Hospitals Project Agreement Part I, Schedule 6, Section II;

  • Considered and agreed a proposal from the Minister for Environment and Home Affairs to undertake an in-depth review of Protected Areas and National Parks in the Turks and Caicos Islands to determine and make recommendations as to the status assigned to them. The areas to be covered will include formalisation of navigation channels, options for allowing maintenance dredging, adding new Protected Areas to National Parks and taking some Protected Areas out of National Parks and considering ways to permit the development of Eco-Tourism within National Parks. Cabinet decided to consider the issue further when the review is completed;

  • Noted a report from the Minister for Education, Youth, Sports and Culture on progress made with the School Maintenance works for summer vacation period - 2013. The budget for school maintenance in 2013 is $350,000. Cabinet agreed that a three year infrastructure development plan for schools should be developed and, subject to funds becoming available, the school maintenance allocation be increased to address critical needs such as those at the Clement Howell High School;

  • Advised that the Governor should sign the draft Memorandum of Understanding with the Hothman American University relating to the establish a Medical University on Providenciales;

  • Endorsed the use of the National Socio-Economic Development Strategy 2008-2017 and the Turks and Caicos Islands Development Strategy 2013-2017 as the foundation on which the new National Development Plan would be developed;

  • Noted that the Governor and the Minster for Border Control and Labour would visit Haiti from 11-13 August, accompanied by the PS at the MOBC, to discuss further strengthening of joint work with the Haitian authorities to combat illegal migration and developing partnership and business and human relations between TCI and Haiti. They would, inter alia, meet President Martelly and the Foreign and Justice Ministers. Cabinet further noted that a business delegation, including officials from the MOF, would be in Haiti at the same time. It underlined the importance to TCI of the relationship with Haiti.

Further information on the issues addressed by Cabinet will be provided by Ministers in due course.

Cabinet will hold its next meetings on 21st August and 4 September 2013.

Published 8 August 2013